US & Canada

George Floyd: Minneapolis council pledges to dismantle police department

Demonstrators marching to defund the Minneapolis Police Department dance on University Avenue on June 6, 2020 in Minneapolis Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Demonstrators have defended the dismantling of the police department in Minneapolis

A majority of Minneapolis City Council has pledged to dismantle the local police department, a significant move amid nationwide protests sparked by George Floyd's death last month.

Nine of the 13 councillors said a "new model of public safety" would be created in a city where law enforcement has been accused of racism.

Mayor Jacob Frey earlier opposed the move, drawing boos from the crowds.

Activists, who for years have demanded such a step, called it a turning point.

But commentators say Minneapolis can now expect a long and complex debate over policing, and it remains unclear what form structural reform will take.

Mr Floyd's death in police custody triggered mass protests against racism and police brutality.

Officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Mr Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes, has been dismissed and charged with second-degree murder. He will make his first court appearance later on Monday.

Three other officers who were at the scene have also been sacked and charged with aiding and abetting.

What did Minneapolis City Council members say?

The nine councillors read a statement to hundreds of protesters on Sunday.

"We are here because here in Minneapolis and in cities across the United States it is clear that our existing system of policing and public safety is not keeping our communities safe," City Council President Lisa Bender was quoted as saying.

"Our efforts at incremental reform have failed. Period."

Ms Bender said details of the overhaul plan needed to be discussed further, adding that she would try to shift police funding towards community based strategies.

Meanwhile, councillor Alondra Cano tweeted that "a veto-proof majority" in the council had agreed that the city police department was "not reformable and that we're going to end the current policing system".

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Media captionThe history of police violence in the US

Last week, Minnesota launched a civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department, with Governor Tim Walz saying he wanted to root out "systemic racism that is generations deep".

The city council later voted for a number of policing changes, including the ban on chokeholds and neck restraints by police officers.

What has the reaction been?

The reform plan in Minneapolis sets up what is likely to be a complicated discussion over new ways of policing across the US. But the process of setting up a new system will probably take months, and is not guaranteed because of the mayor's opposition.

Reacting to the announcement, Kandace Montgomery, the director of the Minnesota-based campaign group Black Vision, said: "It shouldn't have taken so much death to get us here. We're safer without armed, unaccountable patrols supported by the state hunting black people."

On Monday, Democrats in Congress are expected to present sweeping legislation on police reform.

More on George Floyd's death

What's happening elsewhere?

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had already said he would divert money from the city's police department to social services.

"Defund the police" was a rallying cry during the latest street protests, that occasionally spilled into violence and looting.

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Media captionThe US's history of racial inequality has paved the way for modern day police brutality

"Defunding" advocates have for years been condemning what they describe as the aggressive militarised policing in the US.

They argue that police departments' budgets should be slashed and funds diverted to social programmes to avoid unnecessary confrontation and heal the racial divide.

Entire city police departments have been disbanded before in the country: in Compton, California, in 2000, and 12 years later in Camden, New Jersey. In both cases they were replaced with bigger new forces that covered local counties.

What's the latest on the protests?

Demonstrators gathered again on Sunday in US cities including Washington DC, New York, and Los Angeles - where a local broadcaster estimated 20,000 people had rallied down Hollywood Boulevard.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney tweeted pictures of himself marching towards the White House with Christian protesters, with the caption "Black Lives Matter."

The protests were mostly peaceful, and security measures across the US were lifted as unrest started to ease. However, Seattle Police Department said a man drove a car into a demonstration there on Sunday night, before shooting and wounding a 27-year-old bystander.

The UK also saw sizeable weekend protests in support of Black Lives Matter, with demonstrations in cities including London, Manchester, Cardiff, Leicester and Sheffield.

Protesters in London knelt for a minute's silence before chanting "no justice, no peace".

In Australia, tens of thousands joined anti-racism protests in Brisbane, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide and elsewhere, despite warnings from officials over the coronavirus.

US protests timeline

George Floyd dies after police arrest

Tributes to George Floyd at a makeshift memorial
Image caption Tributes to George Floyd at a makeshift memorial Image copyright by Getty Images

George Floyd dies after being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Footage shows a white officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for several minutes while he is pinned to the floor. Mr Floyd is heard repeatedly saying "I can’t breathe". He is pronounced dead later in hospital.

Protests begin

Demonstrators in Minneapolis
Image caption Demonstrators in Minneapolis Image copyright by AFP

Four officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd are fired. Protests begin as the video of the arrest is shared widely on social media. Hundreds of demonstrators take to the streets of Minneapolis and vandalise police cars and the police station with graffiti.

Protests spread

Protesters lie on the streets in Portland, Oregon
Image caption Protesters lie on the streets in Portland, Oregon Image copyright by Reuters

Protests spread to other cities including Memphis and Los Angeles. In some places, like Portland, Oregon, protesters lie in the road, chanting "I can’t breathe". Demonstrators again gather around the police station in Minneapolis where the officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest were based and set fire to it. The building is evacuated and police retreat.

Trump tweets

President Trump tweets about the unrest
Image caption President Trump tweets about the unrest Image copyright by Reuters

President Trump blames the violence on a lack of leadership in Minneapolis and threatens to send in the National Guard in a tweet.  He follows it up in a second tweet with a warning "when the looting starts, the shooting starts". The second tweet is hidden by Twitter for "glorifying violence".

CNN reporter arrested

Members of a CNN crew are arrested at a protest
Image caption Members of a CNN crew are arrested at a protest Image copyright by Reuters

A CNN reporter, Omar Jimenez, is arrested while covering the Minneapolis protest. Mr Jimenez was reporting live when police officers handcuffed him. A few minutes later several of his colleagues are also arrested. They are all later released once they are confirmed to be members of the media.

Derek Chauvin charged with murder

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin after being charged over the death of George Floyd
Image caption Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin after being charged over the death of George Floyd Image copyright by Getty Images

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, is charged with murder and manslaughter. The charges carry a combined maximum 35-year sentence.

Sixth night of protests

Demonstrators set fire to rubbish in New York
Image caption Demonstrators set fire to rubbish in New York Image copyright by Reuters

Violence spreads across the US on the sixth night of protests. A total of at least five people are reported killed in protests from Indianapolis to Chicago. More than 75 cities have seen protests. At least 4,400 people have been arrested.  Curfews are imposed across the US to try to stem the unrest.

Trump threatens military response

Trump posing with a Bible outside a boarded-up church
Image caption Trump posing with a Bible outside a boarded-up church Image copyright by EPA

President Trump threatens to send in the military to quell growing civil unrest. He says if cities and states fail to control the protests and "defend their residents" he will deploy the army and "quickly solve the problem for them". Mr Trump poses in front of a damaged church shortly after police used tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters nearby.

Eighth night of protests

George Floyd’s family joined protesters in Houston
Image caption George Floyd’s family joined protesters in Houston Image copyright by Getty

Tens of thousands of protesters again take to the streets. One of the biggest protests is in George Floyd’s hometown of Houston, Texas. Many defy curfews in several cities, but the demonstrations are largely peaceful.

Memorial service for George Floyd

Mourners gather to remember George Floyd
Image caption Mourners gather to remember George Floyd Image copyright by Getty

A memorial service for George Floyd is held in Minneapolis.  Those gathered in tribute stand in silence for eight minutes, 46 seconds, the amount of time Mr Floyd is alleged to have been on the ground under arrest. Hundreds attended the service, which heard a eulogy from civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton.

International protests

Protester addresses crowds in Australia
Image caption Protester addresses crowds in Australia Image copyright by Getty

As the US saw another weekend of protests, with tens of thousands marching in Washington DC, anti-racism demonstrations were held around the world.

In Australia, there were major protests in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane that focused on the treatment of indigenous Australians. There were also demonstrations in France, Germany, Spain and the UK. In Bristol, protesters tore down the statue of a 17th century slave trader and threw it into the harbour.

Funeral service for George Floyd

Pallbearers bring the coffin into the church
Image caption Pallbearers bring the coffin into the church Image copyright by Getty

A funeral service for George Floyd is held in Houston, Mr Floyd’s home town. Just over two weeks after his death in Minneapolis and worldwide anti-racism protests, about 500 guests invited by the Floyd family are in attendance at the Fountain of Praise Church.  Many more gather outside to show their support.

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